Arthritic pain in the foot and ankle is on the rise. With our active aging baby boomers many may find their activities starting to be limited because of this affliction. It is common for many to use anti-inflammatories, such as Advil, for pain. Although this may help temporarily with the pain the long term use may have negative effects.
As wear and tear takes place on our joints from use, or in some cases injury, the cartilage begins to wear thin. The cartilage that lines the joint is very slick, and when it begins to diminish you may eventually have bone rubbing against bone resulting in pain.
At the end of the treatment options lies the possibility of surgery to replace the joint. An example of the surgery is an ankle replacement or fusion of a joint. This can be done to the ankle joint or other joints in the foot. Without a joint your pain can go away, but you’ve now created the need for other joints to make up for the lack of motion in the joint that is now fused. Eventually, they may become arthritic. We have a new solution for you!
Before you consider the surgical risk and extreme lay up of a fusion or joint replacement, consider joint denervation. So what is joint denervation? Simply put, it’s the removal of the nerve branch that tells you the joint is painful.
We have had a high success rate with this surgical concept and minimal down time and risk. The idea is to decide which branch supplies the majority of sensation to that joint and remove it. We usually remove one or two nerve branches, and these branches don’t supply muscles, so you are not made weaker. The numbness that you are left with has minimal to no consequences compared to how much the pain is limiting your activities. In the rare event of no improvement you’re no worse off and you still have the more major surgery option.
The nerves we remove are in the lower leg, and the surgery takes less than thirty minutes. Where the nerve is cut it is buried into muscle so the tip of the nerve is not sensitive. People are able to walk immediately or within a few days. Contrast this with a minimum of six weeks, non-weight bearing recovery when a joint is fused, on top of the increased risk with a major surgery.
So, if you’re facing the pain of arthritis and have the fear of a fusion or joint replacement consider a second look. Don’t give up those activities you like to do, and consider this exciting new option. Please give us a call and we’ll discuss if this is an appropriate procedure for you.